Author Topic: Blues Festival, not quite rained out  (Read 2178 times)


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Blues Festival, not quite rained out
« on: April 07, 2008, 04:01:56 PM »
Rain couldn't dampen soul or rhythm at blues festival

By Paul Pinkham, The Times-Union

JACKSONVILLE BEACH - Springing the Blues organizer Sam Veal says part of the success of the annual festival lies with the music itself and its appeal to all age groups.

One needed to look no farther Sunday afternoon than Martha Arnold to find the truth in that statement.

At 83 years young, Arnold stood midway between the beer tent and the girl with the pink hair while she swayed to the Mississippi Delta blues sound of festival headliner Michael Burks.

"I love that loud music," Arnold said, her voice barely audible over Burks' smokin' hot electric guitar. "It's like my church music. It makes me happy."

And though stormy skies might have dampened crowd estimates this weekend, they weren't about to keep Arnold away. For the past four years, she said she's made her children drive her to the festival every year from her home in Carrollton, Ga., west of Atlanta.

"I can't get enough of it," she exclaimed.

In 18 years, Springing the Blues has grown from a one-day festival along the boardwalk to three days of music on two stages. It's become one of Jacksonville's signature events. With associated activities like a 5K run and the Surfing the Blues competition, Springing the Blues bills itself as Florida's largest free outdoor music festival.

Veal, a passionate blues lover, said the festival owes its success to support from the community, the volunteers and an indigenous form of American music that touches people of all ages, races and social classes.

The sounds Sunday ranged from the introspective acoustic Piedmont blues of Paul Rishell and Annie Raines to the up-tempo horn-influenced jump blues of the Legendary J.C.'s from Orlando.

"It's a reflection of who we are and what we are," Veal said as Eric Lindell and his band played Louisiana swamp boogie blues nearby on the west stage along Second Street.

The musicians have contributed to the success, too, not just with their talent but also with their love for what they do, Veal said. As Saturday night's storms chased people off, Burks and his band played on until the crowd swelled again. Then he volunteered to return Sunday, Veal said, wondering how many musicians from other genres would have done the same.

Despite less than stellar weather, Veal estimated 100,000 people visited the festival over the weekend. The crowd was smaller than in recent years but still a respectable number. But it isn't about the numbers at all, he added.

Saturday night, he said he had his own answer for those who asked if he should shut the festival down early because of the weather.

"No way," he said, pointing to the handful of die-hard blues fans who still remained after wave after wave of rainstorms. "They came to hear music, and we're going to give it to them."


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Re: Blues Festival, not quite rained out
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2008, 04:27:30 PM »
How was the Funk Fest downtown?  I haven't heard much about it.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali


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Re: Blues Festival, not quite rained out
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2008, 02:10:18 PM »
sound dirty...tell us more.